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Dolomite Support Tips: Time for a Spring Clean

Top Tips to get you system running

Microfluidics is an exciting area which covers a wide variety of innovate and novel applications. With years of experience being at the forefront of microfluidics, Dolomite has advanced the subject area with an array of hardware, systems and components designed with ease of use in mind.

Microfluidic systems can be configured in minutes and hardware optimized or customized for specific applications. There is an abundance of information on our FAQ’s page, which is a great starting point for new users. However, we’ve collated a few tips here from our engineers, applications/support team and customers that will help you get up and running with ease. We’ll cover a range of topics with a little background.

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Time for a Spring Clean

By its very definition, microfluidics manipulates fluids working below the milliliter range. Typically, this uses tubing and/or chips which have features ranging from 800 µm to the smallest chip we’ve produced at 0.2 µm. Dust particles, ranging in size from a few nanometres to the millimeter range, are found almost ubiquitously in nature. Fibers/hairs are also found universally and can be transferred through normal contact when handling equipment. Each source of contaminant has the potential to interrupt microfluidic experiments, but there are methods to mitigate and prevent these from occurring.

Even before unpacking your equipment, cleaning your area will be a worthwhile endeavor to proactively prevent unwanted issues in your system. Typically, users would use one or more of the following in combination to keep their working environments contaminant free:

  • Air gun – Spray down the area to remove debris using a gas cylinder/in house air supply/compressor
  • Clean room/Lab wipes – Specifically lint free wipes which can be used to clean spillages as opposed to general tissues which tend to shed fibres
  • Full PPE – Clothes are a ready supply of fibres which can be easily be transferred when handling hardware; wearing lab coats, gloves and safety googles can help to limit this
  • Working in a fume cupboard – This helps to prevent dust settling by maintaining a constant air flow
  • Placing hardware in /on a tray – Distinguishing dust from worktops can be difficult sometimes, having a defined working area that can be removed and cleaned separately gives users more control
  • Prefilter all liquids used – Typically using a 0.2 µm filter to prevent contamination
  • Weekly inspection of your area – Cleaning areas tends to aerosolise dust which then slowly deposits; make sure that when your area has been cleaned that it remains clean by checking the areas routinely
  • Working in a clean room environment/benchtop hood – If your working area is constantly exposed due to its location, moving the equipment into a designated workstation will drastically help reduce exposure

In general, taking steps to clean your area is a valuable use of time to minimise any potential chip blockages which might slow or impede your work schedule. Our next blogpost will cover what to do if you do encounter blockages and how to recover your chips in an efficient manner.